Off Limits

He's your p-a-l: Locals don't usually expect articles on newsy topics to show up on the cover of 5280, which describes itself as "Denver's Mile-High Magazine"; the publication generally uses its front page to tout not-what-you'd-call-hard-hitting pieces about, for instance, the city's top doctors. But although the sixth annual listing of area gastroenterologists and the like appears in the August/September issue, the spotlighted story is a profile of Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis that's among the puffiest pieces written since the April 20 killings--and given the tenor of much of the Columbine coverage, that's quite an accomplishment. Writer Dave Cullen spares a couple of sentences to wonder if DeAngelis shouldn't be faulted for being unaware that some of Columbine's jocks apparently believed they were first among equals. But mainly he concentrates on idol-building, describing DeAngelis as "the paragon of inspirational principals." Such hyperbole pales compared to an aside Cullen adds after quoting two Columbine students who were reassured by DeAngelis's presence on campus shortly after the shooting started: "The principal--they said it like a younger child might say Daddy."

But Cullen's prose makes us want to cry "Uncle."

Coffee talk: If renovations at the former Highland Grounds coffee shop at the corner of 33rd and Tejon are any indication, the Denver school board will look much different if the Reverend Lucia Guzman is elected this fall. Guzman recently bought the coffee shop, and last week she formally announced her candidacy to unseat Rita Montero just as a brand-new sign was replacing the Old-West style, beige-and-brown Highland Grounds one. The new Lucia's Casa de Cafe is announced by wavy lines in yellow, green and red, with "Lucia's" in blue.

"The color represents the beauty of the neighborhood. It's changing every day, and a variety of different persons are coming in," says Guzman. "The coloring has a lot to do with upscale Hispanic design. If you go into some of the places in Mexico City or San Miguel de Allende, their signage is pizzazzy like that, so it's Mexican, but with a little different character to contrast with the old historic tradition."

Given the chance, Guzman would make similar changes to the board of education. "We need to move from this tradition of not listening to the community's needs. I want to take the voice of the community to the board--that's been lacking."

And a big campaign sign on a building at 33rd and Tejon won't hurt her efforts, either.

London calling: International influences are also shaking up Mayor Wellington Webb's staff. Denver has changed so much over the last ten years that Webb believes the city needs its own trade representative in Europe. Not satisfied to share a rep with the state, Webb has decided to hire his own person to staff a London office that is jointly funded by the city and the state. The decision follows a series of disagreements between the staffs of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Governor Bill Owens's International Trade Office.

In mid-June--just as the London bridges between the mayor and the governor were falling down--Webb announced that MOEDIT's director Max Wiley, a banker who had headed the office for five years, would not be reappointed. Deputy director Bonnie Turner was named as interim director, and she quickly outlined her salary demands and staffing changes in a memo to Wayne Cauthen, the mayor's deputy chief of staff. Turner added that since MOEDIT was now short-staffed, she was "reluctant for the office to take on new responsibilities" during the interim period. The office got even more short-staffed a few weeks later when Turner herself left, taking a job with Denver-based Quark.

"Several things happened which led very quickly to misunderstandings on the part of the mayor's and state's staffs," acknowledges Webb spokesman Andrew Hudson. "It was a chain of events and not any one person's fault. How the office will move forward is still being formulated."

Smoothing over any future international incidents will be the job of MOEDIT's new director, Ron Bernstein. The former director of the city's division of theatres and arenas was appointed by Webb on Tuesday afternoon. Although both sides claim that the London situation has been resolved, they have also apparently agreed to disagree. "It's an arrangement where the mayor feels that one person just representing the city would be better able to filter contacts for Denver," Hudson says. "The mayor and the governor are in agreement about beefing up that office; there's no acrimony between them on this."

Vive la difference!

Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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